Bush, Darfur, and the ICC

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bush, Darfur, and the ICC

Mark Leon Goldberg has a good post over at TAPPED regarding reports that the Bush administration is now poised to accept, or at least refrain from vetoing, a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court.

This article lays out the concessions sought by the Bush administration in order for the resolution to be acceptable to the US
The first would exempt foreign forces in any peacekeeping mission for Sudan from ICC jurisdiction and would allow them to be tried only by their national authorities, something the Security Council reluctantly backed for peacekeepers in Liberia in 2003.

The second, and most controversial, would allow the United States to opt out of ICC jurisdiction over war crimes for its peacekeeping forces throughout the world for seven years.

Parties to the ICC's founding treaty have such a seven-year opt-out for war crimes and the U.S. officials argued they should have the same right without, however, conceding their forces would be subject to its jurisdiction after seven years.
It is ludicrous that the Bush is demanding a seven year exemption from a court he refuses to recognize and repeatedly asserts has no authority over the US. It is equally absurd that the administration is arguing that they should be able to benefit from this provision without becoming a party to the treaty itself. By this logic, I should be able to demand that Netflix start delivering movies to my house without actually, you know, joining or paying for it.

Anyway, regarding this final condition
Third, the United States wants guarantees it would not be asked to cooperate with the ICC in ways that violate limits on such cooperation imposed by U.S. law. U.S. officials said there was little opposition to this from other nations.
Goldberg makes a good point
Helms' parting gift to the human-rights community, the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), expressly forbids any U.S. government agency from assisting the ICC in any way. Back in 2002, when the legislation was passed, Chris Dodd wisely inserted a provision into ASPA giving the president the authority to waive it on a case-by-case basis. If the president is serious about his desire to bring Darfur's war criminals to justice, now would be the time to exercise that authority.


As the ICC investigators prepare for Sudan, the seriousness of President Bush's intent to bring to justice Sudan's war criminals will be measured in part by whether or not he signs an executive order waiving ASPA for Darfur-related investigations.
It'll be a real test of Bush's commitment to this issue to see if he waives the restrictions on cooperation with the ICC. Not vetoing the Security Resolution is one small concession - but it is entirely meaningless if he then refuses to cooperate with any subsequent ICC prosecutions.

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